I was thinking recently about career changes—I underwent one about eight years ago—and how they can require you to almost start from scratch. You may go from being an expert in one field to being a newbie in another.
This line of thinking reminded me of a parable told by Hugh B. Brown, a counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, about 50 years ago. He related a personal experience from his days as the owner of a run-down farm in Canada:
I went out one morning and saw a currant bush. It had grown up over six feet (two meters) high. It was going all to wood. There were no blossoms and no currants. . . . So I got some pruning shears and clipped it back until there was nothing left but stumps. It was just coming daylight, and I thought I saw on top of each of these little stumps what appeared to be a tear, and I thought the currant bush was crying. I was kind of simpleminded (and I haven’t entirely gotten over it), and I looked at it and smiled and said, “What are you crying about?” You know, I thought I heard that currant bush say this:
“How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. I was almost as big as the shade tree and the fruit tree that are inside the fence, and now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me because I didn’t make what I should have made. How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.”
That’s what I thought I heard the currant bush say, and I thought it so much that I answered. I said, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and someday, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down. Thank you, Mr. Gardener.’”
If you haven’t heard this story before, you may nevertheless see where this was going. He himself learned from this experience years later when he felt he was on the receiving end of the pruning. (See both experiences related here.)
As disciples of Christ, we know that it’s God’s will that we remove sin from our lives, but this isn’t really the point of this parable. It suggests more that when He directs us to do something that we think will limit our growth in a certain way, we follow His directions anyway and acknowledge His hand and His goodness.
For example, attending a prestigious university may be within reach and would certainly bring growth, but for one person, it may be the Lord’s will for him to instead attend a smaller school where he can have certain effects on certain other students. For another, it may be an injury that ends her dreams of pursuing excellence in a particular sport and takes her down another path where her light may shine even brighter than if she were a professional athlete.
In my experience, God’s way is always the best way. It may also be the hard way—or seem so at first. He really does want the best for us, but sometimes allowing the best to come means we have to clear the road of what isn’t the best. It may even mean starting over.
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